Ace Customs Racing on the other hand, specialises in advanced motorsport related services.
Ace Customs Racing specialist services include:
- From scratch race car manufacturing in the Maranello 418SP.
- Complete race car builds (based on road car body \ chassis).
- Race car preparation.
- Race engine building.
- Advanced fabrication (roll cages, suspension components etc.)
So, where did it all start?
Exner was born into a car family and from the early days was involved in vintage and veteran cars with his father. With over twenty vintage and classic cars in the Exner stable in the late 80’s, his father unfortunately passed away and it was at that moment that Exner decided he would need to follow in his father’s car collecting and restoring footsteps. His first car, the legendary Opel Superboss was soon joined by another Superboss, this time with a turbo charger and shortly after that another Opel and so his own collection started, with bikes soon joining the mix. Two of his first three cars are still owned today, one (the Superboss) is being restored, with the other Opel becoming a Time Attack race car.
Welgemoed’s passion for audio started at a young age, with him tinkering in his garage building his own car audio systems. His first car, a beach buggy (with sound of course), was followed by a Jetta 2 with which he won 3rd place, 2nd place and then 1st place (in that order) in his first three sound competitions. By that time the bug had definitely bitten and car audio became a full-time hobby and was soon to become a full-time job. After climbing the ranks and eventually heading up the car audio division at a large retailer for several years, Welgemoed stumbled across an opportunity at one of South Africa’s best known tuning shops and was appointed as a sales rep. It was here that his fanaticism for the Rockford Fosgate brand began, completing a number of impressive installs based on the popular brand. From there he moved to a large car audio shop in Boksburg where he ran the workshop for a number of years, all the while building his knowledge, reputation as well as his own car’s audio system.
Van Schalkwyk started his racing career at 16, in 100cc karts and then moving on to 125cc. He won numerous titles in both classes and then moved on to single seaters. In 1989 he won the Castrol 6 Hour Endurance race in Class D for Ford Motorsport. In 1990 he won the prestigious Autoquip ‘Driver of the Year’ Award as well as the Stannic ‘Most Improved Driver’. Between 1991 and 2001 and he won numerous titles (too many to list), in several different racing formats. In 2002 he set the South African land speed record at a startling 388.538km/h, a record which still stands today (for a non-jet powered car). From 2003 until 2007 he competed in the local Wesbank V8 series, winning another title in 2005. 2008 was van Schalkwyk’s last pro-racing year where he competed in six NASCAR ‘Late Model’ races. After retiring from racing, he managed the Nissan Dealer team (350z’s and a supercharged 370z) as well as the Williams Hunt team (Chevrolet Cruze). In 2013, van Schalkwyk retired from motorsport. Well… retired until Exner got him fired up about a new venture that is.
And Ace Customs?
Exner and Welgemoed met after Exner had spent many months trying to find the right shop to install an audio system into his daily driver, a modified Opel Kadett, his fanaticism for perfection dictating that not just any shop and any installer would do. After visiting a well-known shop in Boksburg, where Welgemoed was working, Exner decided that Welgemoed was the man for the job. After that install, there was another and another, all into Exner and his wife’s growing car collection with Welgemoed being the only one entrusted with working on their pride and joy.
When Welgemoed announced, early in 2010 that he would be opening his own shop, Exner’s interest was immediately peaked with owning a custom shop being a long-time dream. But as Welgemoed already had a partner, Exner did not pursue the opportunity. The two did however stay in touch and after the initial partnership did not pan out, Welgemoed “went solo”. It was at this moment when Exner’s entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and the arm twisting began. After many months of discussing and much convincing, the then very sceptical Welgemoed finally conceded and Ace Customs was born!
In 2013, Exner was looking for someone to assist him with turning his Opel Kadett into a Time Attack car. After going through several suppliers, none of whom managed to get the car to where Exner wanted it, he was introduced to van Schalkwyk by a mutual friend in the motorsport industry. There was an instant synergy between the two of them with a master plan for the car being defined. The project was then unfortunately put on hold due to Exner having other (capital spend) commitments and the two of them lost touch for just more than a year. Then, when it was decided to reignite the Time Attack Project, Exner’s wife’s 350z track car as well as the long awaited (by van Schalkwyk) Ferrari 312PB replica, Ace Customs Racing was born!
So why the ‘Ace’ in ‘Ace Customs’?
The Ace itself has many meanings, but the key ones relating to the decision to use ‘Ace’ were “referring to holding the trump card of all” and “not caring for anything lesser”. The Ace is also traditionally the highest card in the deck of playing cards, so in essence Ace Customs are looking to be the best, the number one custom shop in Gauteng and eventually South Africa.
To quote Exner, “we want to be the household name in customising in South Africa, like West Coast Customs is in the USA”, “the ultimate custom and fabrication shop, with a no compromises approach to fit, finish and build quality”. “Our goal is to offer an exclusive service, focused on premium and exotic vehicles” he also said. With several vehicles already featured in ‘Speed & Sound’, including the phenomenal Ford Transit van aptly dubbed “Wild Thing”, Ace Customs have certainly started off on the right foot!
Where to from here?
The focus for Ace Customs will for now remain on high-end audio systems for vehicles, motorcycles, ATV’s and watercraft as well as a host of specialist interior and exterior customising services and as the finishing touch, professional detailing. Future services will include restoration, restomod and specialist metal fabrication.
Can they do it, only time will tell. But one thing is for sure, Ace Customs is going places!
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